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News Release Archive:

News Release 646 of 955

March 11, 1999 12:00 AM (EST)

News Release Number: STScI-1999-09

Hubble Views Home Galaxy of Record-Breaking Explosion

March 11, 1999: Here are Hubble telescope views of the rapidly fading visible-light fireball from the most powerful cosmic explosion recorded to date. For a brief moment the light from the blast was equal to the radiance of 100 million billion stars. The initial explosion began as an intense burst of gamma rays, which happened on Jan. 23, 1999.

The blast had already faded to one four-millionth of its original brightness when Hubble made observations on February 8 and 9 [image on left]. Hubble captured the fading fireball embedded in a galaxy located two-thirds of the way to the horizon of the observable universe. The picture on the right is a close-up view of the galaxy, the finger-like filaments extending above the bright white blob of the gamma-ray fireball.

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Credit: Andrew Fruchter (STScI) and NASA